DBQ on the Impact of the Russo-Japanese War in Asia

By Leonard C. Ornstein
Baldwin Senior High School, Queens, NY

The following question is based on the accompanying documents and your knowledge of Global History and Geography. Some of the documents have been edited for this assignment. The question is designed to examine you ability to work with primary source documents. As you study the documents, take into account the source of the document and the author's viewpoint.

-Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a clear conclusion.

-Analyze the documents.

-Use the appropriate documents to support your argument.

-Use the documents to support your ideas.

-Include related outside information.

Historical Context:
In 1904-1905 Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905.

Discuss the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on nationalism throughout Asia.

Part A: Scaffolding Questions
The documents below relate to reaction to the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War. Look at each document closely, and then answer the question that follows it.

Document 1
"Not only was Japan now a major world power, but its performance had excited the admiration of the world. In England there was a 'learn from Japan' movement that called for a rebirth of patriotism and loyalty. Throughout Asia the fact the Japan had defeated a major imperialist power attracted the admiration of nationalists of many stripes."

The Making of Modern Japan pg. 440
Marius B. Jansen

1. How did Japan attract the admiration of other Asian nationalist groups?

Document 2
"The Japanese victory over the Russians in 1905 exploded a strong Western myth. Many Westerners believed that white people were a superior race. The overwhelming success of European colonialism and imperialism in the Americas, Africa, and Asia had reinforced this belief. But the Japanese had shown Europeans that people of other races were their equals in modern warfare."

World History: Patterns of Interaction pg. 722

2. Explain how the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905 shattered white European stereotypes about Asians?

Document 3

"Japan's startling success in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 gave impetus to the "self-strengtheners." The Japanese example appeared as something to emulate. (Chinese) Students seeking a higher education in tune with modern times went to Tokyo."

Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945 pg. 49-50
Barbara Tuchman

3. Why did nationalistic Chinese students want to emulate the Japanese?

Document 4

"Japan had become the inspiration for all those who made up what the newspapers called 'Young China,' the reformers and intellectuals who saw the country's salvation in a modernization movement on the lines of Japan's espousal of foreign ideas after the Meiji Restoration. By its defeat of China in 1895, Japan had forced them to face the reality of their country's weakness. By its defeat of Russia ten years later, Japan had shown that an Asian army could defeat a European one. For China, the latter victory would prove a mixed blessing, since Japan replaced Russia as the dominant power in Manchuria. But to young men of Mao Zedong's generation, what mattered was that the yellow race had proved it could defeat the white."

Mao: A Life by Philip Short pgs. 37-38

4. How did Japan's victory over Russia effect the young Chinese reformers of Mao Zedong's generation?

Document 5

"The School was a revelation to Mao Zedong. It offered courses in natural sciences and Western learning, as well as in the Chinese classics, and one of the teachers was a Chinese scholar who had studied in Japan, as many ambitious reformist youths were beginning to do. This man taught music and English, and shared songs from Japan with his students. One of these was a hymn of triumph to the Japanese victory over the Russians in the war of 1904-1905. Japan's defeat of a Westernized power like Russia enchanted the students, who saw the possibility for a regeneration of their own country in the example of Japan's astonishingly swift race to modernization through industrialization and constitutional reform."

Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence pg. 8

5. Why were Chinese students, such as Mao Zedong, "enchanted" with Japan's victory over Russia?

Document 6

"Like many of his progressive contemporaries in China, Phan Boi Chau found a model for his program in Japan, where the reformist elements from among the aristocratic class had rallied around Emperor Meiji to promote the modernization of traditional Japanese society. Like many Vietnamese, he had been impressed wit the success of Japanese armed forces in the recent war against Tsarist Russia, viewing it as proof that Asian peoples possessed the capacity to defeat Western invaders. Chau was firmly convinced that Vietnam would require assistance from abroad to bring his plans to fruition. At the end of 1904, he left for Japan and took steps to establish a school in Yokohama (Japan) to train young Vietnamese patriots for the coming struggle for national independence."

Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William Duiker pg. 26

6. How did Japan's victory over Russia change Asian attitudes towards their European imperializers?

Document 7:

"Look at Siam (Thailand) and Japan. These two countries do not have a civilization more ancient then our own; yet they rank among the nations of the world. If France returned our country to us, it would see without doubt that we would know how to govern it!"

Ho Chi Minh in 1921 meeting with French Colonial Officials
Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William Duiker pg. 76

7. How was Ho Chi Minh's reaction to the Russo-Japanese War similar to the reaction of Mao Zedong?

Document 8

"The main cause for the hardening in the attitude of the Vietnamese was an external event-the victory of Japan over Russia in 1905. It taught the educated, and even more the young who longed for an education, an unforgettable lesson-i.e., that the only way for the East to assert itself against the West was by acquiring the scientific, technological, and general knowledge of the West. These are the weapons we need to regain freedom, wrote a Vietnamese nationalist from his exile in Japan, where an increasing number of revolutionary students were going in the quest for knowledge to help them rid Vietnam of foreign domination."

Vietnam: A Political History by Joseph Buttinger pg. 121

8. Why did some nationalistic Vietnamese students go to Japan to study?

Part B- Essay Response

Discuss the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Asian nationalism.

Your essay should be well organized with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In you essay, include information from the documents and outside historical information.

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